Heartbreak

Our Last Date

Photo: Author
photo of author with wife on their last date

Less than five years ago, we were diagnosed with breast cancer. We fought it and we beat it. Five months later, she mentioned some back pain that we initially wrote off as just getting old, but it ended up being cancer in her spine. A month later, cancer showed up in her spinal fluid, and just a few weeks later, it invaded her brain.

She asked if we could have just one more “day” date. It’s all she wanted. Well, that, and a big ole tub of movie theater popcorn. And a large fountain Coke. And a selfie. That’s all. So that’s what she got. Two years ago today was our last date and the last selfie with just the two of us. And her big ole tub of popcorn.

We still had more days. Nineteen days to be exact. But if I remember correctly, this was the last time that it was just the two of us in that room. If you knew Rachel and you knew her story, you’d know that her hospital room was never empty.

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And more often than not, it was actually kind of crowded. People just wanted to be near her and that was so good for her heart. So that’s what we allowed. We allowed people. All the time. Visiting hours were ignored in her room. You just came and went as you pleased.

 And if you had the chance to come, you were one of the lucky ones. And I think it’s safe to say that once you left that room, you looked at life a little bit differently going forward.

But for a few hours, on this day, two years ago, it was just the two of us. And her popcorn. We talked about so many things. All the things. The things that you’d never imagine talking about with someone you’d planned to spend the rest of your life with, only to realize the rest of one of your lives was about to be over.

So we talked. We talked about the kids. So much about the kids. We talked about what things will look like when she’s gone.

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We talked about the future that we thought we were going to have. We talked about Heaven and how incredible that will be. We talked about the 10 years that I chased her and the almost 10 years we had together. We talked about all of the things we would have done differently if we’d known what we knew at that moment.

I apologized to her for not doing more. For not finding the solution. For not fixing this. For allowing this to happen to her. And with a mouth full of popcorn she assured me that no one could have ever fought harder for her than I did. And that I wasn’t allowed to ever think that again. So I haven’t. Because I promised her that I wouldn’t.

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I apologized for not being a better husband. For not being more present. For not being a better noticer. For taking her, and so many of the things that she did for me for granted. She assured me that no one could have ever been better than I was to her. And that I wasn’t allowed to ever think that again. So I haven’t. Because I promised her I wouldn’t.

She told me to keep living. To eventually find love again. To be patient. To take care of myself. To love others well. To hug people longer than normal. To focus less on work and more on moments. She reminded me that I can’t take the work with me, but in the moments I can.

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She told me to write more and to please finish my book. To go after all the things I’ve ever wanted. She reassured me that it was okay to fail. That it’s okay to fall flat on my face at times and that she’s so sorry that she won’t be there to help pick me up. But she told me that I have to get back up.

And then she asked me to do my best to never let her story fade away. Not because she wanted to be recognized or known; Rachel never cared a thing about that. But because she wanted her kids to know their mommy. To know that their mommy didn’t give up on them.

To know that their mommy is so proud of them. To that their mommy loves them so much. To know that their mommy has an entire army of people looking out for them. She just wanted her kids to know their mommy and who she was.

And that’s why I keep sharing. It’s not for me. It’s not even for you. It’s for the kids. And it’s for Rachel. And it’s because I promised her that I would.

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Brandon Janous is a recent widower and a father of three. He is an entrepreneur, writer, and storyteller, but his favorite role is “daddy.” He is the co-founder of BeautyText and the VP of Partnerships at Fanbox. Follow him on Instagram.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.